Rep Kevin Bratcher (R-29) is one of the co-chairs of the work group empowered by SCR 31 to explore problems and solutions in the Juvenile Justice system. On Feb 7, 2023 he filed HB 3 which has a provision to allocate funds, almost $9 million, to reopen a Jefferson County Detention Center by retrofitting the old one or renovating a new space.
It also includes some provisions related to juvenile justice that are similar to the ones he proposed in the 2022 session in HB 318. Those provisions were opposed by Ky Youth Advocates, the Justice Action Network, and Sen Whitney Westerfield. That 2022 bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate.
This year’s HB 3 would require a child charged with a serious felony to be held in custody prior to a hearing. It also would strip the confidentiality of the juvenile’s records if found guilty.
Another provision would tighten truancy sanctions, which Sen. Westerfield indicated would result in more youth being locked up for a minor infraction, rather than focusing on getting the child help with problems in the home that might be contributing to the truancy.
Child advocates and Sen. Weterfield oppose mandatory initial detention for youth and feel the decision should be left up to a judge. HB 3 has not been assigned to a committee yet, but its low bill number implies the Republican leadership considers it a high priority bill, and will work to pass it.